I love a good trend. Zen minimalism. Count me in!
I recently picked up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. With a title like that, it was only a matter of time. After all, I'm a sucker for good marketing.
In my defense, I paid just $.10 for the privilege of reading it. It would have been free, but I returned it one day late. (Alas- I forgot about my "life hacks")
Not only did I read the book, I followed many of the directions. This is what I learned.
Tidying up: Declutter + Store
Tidying up is a simple equation of shedding unnecessary stuff, and neatly storing the rest so that it's easy to clean in the future. If you start with decluttering, storing is easier. You shouldn't constantly declutter.
That's a three sentence summary of the book. You're welcome.
Magic Rating: Harry Potter
Declutter once for a lifetime of savings
If you've ever tried piecemeal decluttering, you know that it's a losing proposition. Take heart Marie Kondo pronounces. You merely need to declutter once, for a lifetime of peaceful living.
Interestingly, I think she's right. Since decluttering, I've bought a few new things without any regrets about throwing away the olds. I no longer feel the need to ask, "Could this be useful one day?" If it's mine, and I've bought it for me, I can do what I want.
I feel like I've got my stuff under control, and I don't expect to gather too much clutter again. This might seem insignificant to you, since I live in a four person household, but I control a lot more than 25% of the stuff. I'm the person who buys new personal hygiene products for everyone (except razors for Rob), I buy and use most of the kitchen supplies (Rob uses some, but not much), I buy most of the paper products, household cleaning supplies, and other consumables. Getting rid of my clutter significantly increased our house's livability.
Magic Rating: Snape
Categories not rooms
Marie Kondo suggests that you declutter your life in the following order:
Magic Level: Hermione- Third Year
Don't worry about everyone else's crap
This is the most controversial part of Marie Kondo's book. I thought that I needed everyone on board for the big declutter, but I was wrong. I only took care of my stuff, and life feels significantly more under control.
I'm no longer worried that Rob has a closet overflowing with tools and plastic bags. I don't mind that Shirley's room has boxes of clothes that we may or may not need again in the future.
I don't care that Kenny wants to keep every single one of his multiplying vehicles.
However, I still live with all these people in a small area, and their stuff still bugs me. Especially when it's in a place like my bedroom or under my feet while I'm cooking or doing laundry. Marie Kondo suggested that tidying your own things would be enough. I respectfully disagree. Clutterbug spouses and children who are children need their own magical cure.
Magic Rating: Muggle
Let your things rest
Once you've reached the magic nirvana of having just the right number of things, you still have to store said things. Marie Kondo has only a few suggestions for this.
1. Only hang clothes that refuse to be folded.
2. Store as much as you can vertically.
3. Store everything in drawers instead of boxes.
4. Your purses and socks and what not need a break. Yes. Seriously. They need a break.
Marie Kondo seems to insist that every house has optimal storage already built into the house. Clearly, she's never been to a house built in the 1960s by the government, but our house does not have good built in storage. In fact, it has almost no built in storage. We've got two clothing closets (for three bedrooms), an area next to the bathroom that should become a closet but isn't, and a closet downstairs that Rob uses for his tools. Even after going through everything, we don't have enough space for everything to be neatly tucked into our built in storage.
Honestly, for all her tips on decluttering, she has remarkably little to say about storing things. This disappointed me a lot, because I'm not going to look through a Bed Bath & Beyond catalog or read another book about storage, and I'm quite certain that my socks don't need to rest. They are socks.
Obviously, this is where the real magic comes in. Without so much as a single illustration, you're supposed to know how to organize your stuff.
Magic Rating: Dursleys.
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is only life changing if you let it change your life. Certainly, I could use a greater appreciation for the things in my life, but once you start asking me to thank my socks, I'm done.
I did the big declutter, and I've started to try to store things better, but we're going to have to build that closet for it to work. I've also determined that I will feel better if I get rid of a desk in Shirley's room and replace it with a chest of drawers. Kondo doesn't address furniture anywhere, but it's clear that some furniture is better suited to a decluttered house than other furniture.
At the end of the day, I think you have to believe in the magic for it to change your life. I have a slightly cleaner and easier to manage house, but I'm not sure that I consider it life-changing.
I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, and a personal finance nerd who is devoted to spreadsheeting my way through life.